Darian Durant made his first public comments after announcing his retirement on 620 CKRM’s The SportsCage.
Durant joined host Rod Pedersen and former Riders teammate Luc Mullinder.
Pedersen: How are you feeling after making the announcement?
Durant: Honestly, I’m at peace. To rank a mood would be tough, but I’m at peace. I’ve gone back and forth with this decision for a while now and I was always told by guys who left the game, if your heart isn’t in it then it’s time to go, so I figured it was that time.
Pedersen: What tipped the scales for you to make this decision today?
Durant: It was a long process. I spoke with Winnipeg before mini-camp. I’ve been down in Atlanta training and my body wasn’t really responding how I wanted it to and I just had a daughter. Being away from her for those three weeks that was really tough for me. I’m sure my new parents could agree with me there, it was just really tough leaving her. And when I got back home and I was back with my family, I think at that moment I realized that being home and watching my daughter grow up was something that I didn’t want to miss. I found out from the wife that she couldn’t come to Winnipeg as much as we had hoped for, so I thought it was best if I just made the decision to stay home and be with my family more.
Pedersen: Has it hit you yet that this will be your first year out of football since you were a little kid?
Durant: I don’t think it’s hit me yet. I think once camp starts and the stories come out and I see the guys taking the field for camp and for the pre-season, I think I may shed a tear or two in that case, but I’m just tired of taking hits. It’s been a great ride for me. I left it all on the field and I’m happy about that.
Mullinder: How hard was it writing that statement?
Durant: It was so difficult. Every year for about the past 25 years I’ve been playing football throughout the spring going into the summer and fall. It just hit me that I wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. I did shed a tear when I was getting that message together. Just being around so many guys like Geroy [Simon] seeing him hanging it up, Barrin Simpson, some of the classiest vets you could ever be around, just being around those guys and seeing them on their way out it helped me out a lot.
Pedersen: Did you feel the outpouring from Riders fans?
Durant: It just melts me. The few messages I have read – for people to care so much about you and for you to bring some of the brightest moments of their life to them, people in Saskatchewan they grow up from the time they’re babies being Rider fans. Their love for that team and that province it carried over into me, I became a part of the province. I became a Saskatchewan guy myself. To hear that from the fans really meant a lot. I’m forever indebted to that community.
Pedersen: You got to play in the new stadium, that must have been a nice way to cap your career?
Durant: It was. I haven’t made a public statement since then but I really appreciate the warm welcome that the fans and the organization gave me when I came back last October. Didn’t know that was going to be my last game but it’s just so fitting that my first and last game as a pro was right there in Regina. The script couldn’t be any better.
Pedersen: Any take on what the Blue Bombers had to say today?
Durant: Well, first of all, it’s something that they’ve known. I wouldn’t dare just hang up my cleats and then not let them know. My agent has been in conversations with their general manager for the past three-four weeks now, so they knew that. Secondly, I’m not going to address the bonus situation. I just felt like it was just a situation where I deserve that. I’m going to just leave it at that.
Pedersen: What’s next?
Durant: Family time. First and foremost it’s just family time. I just want to enjoy the family. I have a couple business opportunities that I am mulling over right now, some great opportunities actually that may not be there if I were to play another year. I’m just weighing my options right now.
Pedersen: Will you be in football whether it’s immediately or long-term, is that something that’s in your plans?
Durant: That is something that I definitely want to be a part of. Football is my life. It’s what I’ve been doing since I was a little kid. I definitely will continue to do that going forward.
Pedersen: Any message to the Rider nation?
Durant: I just want to thank Rider nation. I was just a small town kid from South Carolina coming up in 2006 and just being able to grow as a man, not only on the field but off the field, growing up in that community and becoming a part of that community means so much to me. And like I said in my statement, I definitely will have my family back. I still own a home in Regina. I definitely will be there a lot more, it’s going to be great for us. I definitely want to get in the community. I’m building the foundation. I will announce that here in the near future. I just want to thank them for all their love and support. I was glad that I could bring a Grey Cup back to Regina especially in front of the home crowd. I’m just thankful for everyone that supported me and made me into the man I am today.